The Dawn mission was technically brilliant, the first mission to use ion propulsion and the first to orbit two separate bodies (Vesta and Ceres).
For all that, I have to say Ceres is the most disappointingly dull object we've yet visited. Callisto, Mimas and Mercury are also mostly just cratered balls but they all have at least one massive crater to spice things up, plus Mercury does have some tectonics. Ceres has no really big impact basins preserved (that's been noted as a puzzle), and while there are color and albedo differences that will no doubt allow a geologic history to be developed, there's no obvious stratigraphy and very little tectonism. Ceres stands in stark contrast to Pluto and its moon Charon, which we had every right to expect to be cratered ice balls and which instead turned out to be geological Disneylands.
Since Ceres was the Roman goddess of agriculture, place names on Ceres are named for harvest festivals and deities from world cultures. All well and good, but hopefully some features will be named for real people who helped feed the world. Luther Burbank, Norman Borlaug and Cyrus McCormick come to mind. (Yes, there are women agronomists who deserve recognition, too, like Anna Larroucau Laborde de Lucero, French born pioneer of the Argentine wine industry. Most potential future candidates are still living.)
Created 27 January 2015, Last Update
03 June 2017
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